As part of a constructive collaboration between journalists and public officials, Luxembourg's Ministry of State has issued a new circular taking into account the inherent needs of journalistic work and emphasising on the efficient flow of information.
On Wednesday 15 June 2022, the Government Council approved a new version of the circular relating to the rights and duties of civil servants in their relations with the press (known as the "Circulaire Bettel"), which repeals and replaces the first circular dated 7 January 2016.
The result of consultations between the Press Council, the Luxembourg Association of Professional Journalists (l'Association luxembourgeoise des journalistes professionnels - ALJP) and the government, this circular is part of the objective of continuous improvement of access to information held by ministerial departments, administrations and state services. In order to organise the flow of information as well as while possible respecting the response times required for journalistic work, the new circular provides for a series of measures aimed at standardising the procedure to be followed in the event of requests for information from journalists.
These new measures include in particular:
- The obligation to process requests for information within 24 hours of the request resulting either in the sending of the requested information or in the sending of an acknowledgment of receipt accompanied by the estimated time necessary for the communication of the information;
- The obligation to indicate the legal justification if the requested information cannot be provided;
- The establishment of a generic e-mail address of the type “firstname.lastname@example.org” to which at least two State agents must have access;
- Introducing a prominent insert on websites that lists the names and phone numbers of press agents as well as the generic email address.
To ensure the effectiveness of the new measures introduced by the circular, an assessment of the application of the circular will be carried out after a period of six months.
Finally, to allow government departments, administrations and services to adapt to the new provisions, the circular will take effect one month after its publication.